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Upset Over Pay Plan, Denver Teachers Set Strike Vote

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Denver public school teachers were set to vote early this week on whether to strike over their latest dispute with the district.

If the strike is approved, teachers in the 62,000-student district would begin walking out this week, said Leonard Fox, the president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association.

The union and district were deadlocked over a salary package and the structure of the councils that govern individual schools.

Last week, the state director of labor, John Donlon, came up with a compromise plan in an effort to head off a strike.

The union's rank and file will consider the plan before taking a vote, but Mr. Fox said he believed the membership "would not be satisfied" with the proposal.

Previous Disputes

The district faced similar troubles last fall when hundreds of teachers called in sick to protest the district's failure to include a 3.5 percent pay raise in its 1993-94 budget. (See Education Week, Oct. 20, 1993.)

And a 1990 contract dispute ended only after Gov. Roy Romer and state labor officials intervened. The compromise they negotiated gave teachers more decisionmaking power on school campuses but abolished some union protections. (See Education Week, April 3, 1991.)

The D.C.T.A. is now pushing to expand its powers on local school councils by asking that principals no longer have authority to veto council decisions. Also, the union wants working conditions defined in teacher contracts, not decided by the local councils.

District officials said the D.C.T.A. was also asking that one of the four teachers' seats on each council be designated for a union representative.

Instead, Mr. Donlon supported the board's recommendation that the councils add a seat for another parent.

In addition, the compromise plan would give each teacher a $1,000 pay increase this year. The package would cost the district more than $4.5 million.

The board had offered a $4.1 million salary package to the union's $6 million proposal.The D.C.T.A. was asking for one 2 percent raise now, and another in January, said Patty Murphy, a spokeswoman for the schools.

School officials, however, could add to their offer by setting aside $700,000 for step increases, Ms. Murphy said.

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